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N.Y.C. Chancellor Seizes Control of 2 Local Boards

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Schools Chancellor Rudy F. Crew last week suspended the community school boards in two New York City districts and announced that 10 other local boards would be investigated because of allegations of misconduct and failure of educational leadership.

At least one of the two suspended boards planned to challenge the chancellor's actions.

Carmelo Saez, the board president of long-troubled District 9 in the Bronx, said that his board would seek an injunction and would ask that the suspensions be vacated.

Mr. Crew also seized control of District 7 in the Bronx. He replaced the governing bodies of both community districts with two of his top staff members. By the end of last week, Mr. Crew said he would appoint three-member trustee panels to oversee the two districts until the investigations had been completed.

In an official statement, Mr. Crew did not detail what the allegations of misconduct entailed. He only referred to them as "shameful" if true.

But local news accounts suggested that board members had been accused of patronage hiring and pressuring district employees to participate in fund-raising events, among other charges of wrongdoing.

History of Tension

The removals come in the early stages of campaigning for the May elections of school boards for New York's 32 community districts.

Mr. Saez, who said the District 9 board had done nothing wrong, charged that the timing of the suspensions was not a coincidence.

"The chancellor is responding to political and media pressure," Mr. Saez asserted, noting that some of the city's political leaders have called for replacing the elected boards with political appointees.

"It's nothing more than part of an agenda to affect the already-troubled community school board system," he said. "District 9 just happened to be more vulnerable because of our past history and because of the [low] educational-achievement level of our children."

Tension between the central administration and the city's local districts is not uncommon. But District 9 has been at loggerheads with the administration over numerous issues dating back to the chancellorship of the late Richard R. Green in the late 1980s.

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